Faith, Goals, and Fear

Between you and every goal that you wish to achieve, there is a series of obstacles,
and the bigger the goal, the bigger the obstacles. -Brian Tracy

Every business and every person has obstacles along their pathway toward their goal. If you haven’t ever noticed that then chances are your goals haven’t been big or impactful enough.

Successful businesses, top performers, and great leaders don’t get there by luck.

Overcoming the obstacles in our path is what life and careers are about. It’s how wisdom is acquired, and it’s how replication happens.

Think about a time where you had to overcome obstacles to become who you are today. What was it you had to overcome? Anxiety, anger, financial loss, depression, loss of a loved one, or joblessness? These items all have one thing in common: fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of loneliness, fear of devastation, fear of health, fear of death, fear of not being a success, fear of loss, and so on.

After you think of that obstacle, look back now at how you overcame it. How did you move through it or turn it around or run from it? That is the story you get to teach.

We all live beyond seasons of obstacles. Some come out on the other side stronger and some weaker.

One thing we know. This too shall pass. How will your obstacles change you?

  1. Will you be stronger or weaker from it?
  2. Will your family be stronger or weaker from it?
  3. Will your company be stronger or weaker from it?

In the future, there will be more goals and more obstacles. Have faith and fight! Faith and fear cannot dwell in the same soul.

Debate is a skill that good leaders possess. Debate helps us create better solutions, better relationships, stronger teams, and grow in seeing things from different perspectives.

Each of us can learn to debate effectively – and sometimes we learn how to do something well by understanding the mishaps we need to avoid. Below are five debate mishaps that will harm your ability to effectively influence others through debate.

Mishap #1: Making it personal.

The minute you go after “the person” rather than “the topic” is the minute you have lost your ability to effectively debate. You’ve also likely lost the respect of others in the conversation. How do we make it personal? By judging someone’s character, making sarcastic digs about them as person, downgrading their intelligence based on their opinions, and making passive aggressive comments in a effort to cause hurt.

When you make it personal, you might as well say, “I’m angry because I don’t have the upper hand in this debate. Since I can’t “win,” I’m going to lash out and hurt you.”

Mishap #2: Being emotional.

Debating should be a calm process. You can be passionate, but you must be able to explain your position in a way that makes it easy for the other person to listen to you. Talking loudly, talking over the other person, spitting when you talk, leaving the room angry, interrupting, and crossing your arms all divert the focus from the topic to your anger and frustration.

Mishap #3: Not learning.

Debating isn’t just about getting your opinion out there and believing you are right regardless of the other person’s opinion. That’s arrogance. If we are willing to debate, we should be willing to see the other person’s side of the topic. Why do they think or feel this way?

We know others aren’t interested in truly learning when they interrupt, refuse to listen, only focus on their own responses, and don’t allow the other person to speak.

Mishap #4: Tear down the “enemy.”

STOP IT! The other person is not your enemy. If you don’t like what they stand for, then lift up the advantages of what you stand for. If your plan is better, then discuss the positive attributes of your plan, not the alleged stupidity of the other person’s plan. Poor debaters spend all their energy tearing down or insulting the other person’s view instead of communicating the strengths of theirs. Focusing on your point-of-view’s merits in the face of criticism takes courage. Hurling insults via social media is weak. Build your case instead of downgrading theirs.

Mishap #5: Hate instead of Debate.

I was inspired to write this post due to the social and political hatred we are witnessing each day. It seems that the fine art of healthy debate is gone and instead we just throw shade (LOL, I learned that phrase from my girls). Let us realize that we each have our own belief system. So, let’s allow our beliefs to influence rather than insult.

Debate instead of hate, and you may find yourself growing into a person of influence.

What does early look like to you? Fifteen minutes before start time? Right on time? Arriving before that person that’s always really late. Maybe that person that’s always really late is you.

A Psychology Today article points out the oft-overlooked reason why some people are chronically late: because they don’t want to be early. Ha, yes, sometimes it really is that simple. Now their reasoning behind not wanting to be early differs. For some, being early (and having to make small talk) makes them uncomfortable. Others find being early a waste of productivity. I get that. I like to maximize my time, and if I have three minutes before a meeting begins, I can respond to one more email or grab one more cup of coffee!

One of the action items I often coach leaders and teams on is starting and ending meetings on time. Always. Every time. Why? When we make a habit of starting meetings on time, we communicate their priority, and we respect the commitment of those who’ve made the effort to be on time. When we make a habit of ending meetings on time, we communicate the importance and sense of urgency needed to stay on task in the meeting time frame.

If your desire to not be early stems from not wanting to waste time, consider maximizing your time in other ways that still allow you to arrive at or start meetings on time:

  • Use those extra few minutes. Michael Dell has said he likes to arrive early to meetings so he can gauge the mood of the room and have some informal interactions with teammates before the meeting starts.
  • Respond to that email on your phone after you’ve arrived on time but before the meeting begins.
  • Spend a few minutes refreshing yourself on the purpose of the meeting and what you hope to accomplish.
  • Enjoy the few quiet minutes of waiting. Really, how often do we get to enjoy a few moments without email, phone calls, texts, deadlines, roadblocks, traffic, and so on? Arriving early to your meeting won’t eliminate all the pressures and demands, but it may give you time to take a few deep breaths and enjoy a bit of silence before moving on to the next one.

Common themes often emerge in my coaching and training sessions. For example, I can tell you every company  – regardless of size or industry – will list communication, handling conflict, and accountability among its top challenges.

When it comes to individual challenges, a lack of urgency – or an absence of action – ranks near the top. So often, employees from entry level to executives quickly take on a project, and just as quickly they hit a standstill because they didn’t get clarity on what the boss really wants.

So, then what? Wait until the next meeting so you can ask follow-up questions? Wait until the leader asks for an update? Wait until…what? What are you waiting for?

Stop assuming you have a clear picture without taking the time and effort to get clarity. How do you do that? I believe every person should have at least two – three follow-up questions to every assignment they get. Here are some questions that may help get you going:

  • What do you not like about the current process (or plan, or system, etc.)?
  • What do you like about the current…?
  • What are we hoping to overcome/correct/accomplish?
  • Who else is involve/who do I need work with?
  • When would you like this completed by?

If you’re an analyzer who needs time to process the information, ask if you can send an email or pop in within the next day or so to follow-up with any additional questions.

Avoid appearing as if you have a lack of follow through or a poor sense of urgency by taking the time to get a clear picture of what is expected before you leave that first meeting. In most cases, your leader will appreciate your thorough questions, and you’ll have the information you need to start – and finish – strong.

Last month I taught another webinar through the American Staffing Association on dealing with difficult people. Many times the Q&A is my favorite part of teaching, and I received so many great questions from webinar attendees at the conclusion of the session.

One question I followed up on from a webinar attendee was, “How do I make sure a direct approach doesn’t come across as rude?”

I appreciate it when others take a direct approach, but I know not everyone is as receptive to getting straight to the point. There are entire cultures that find a direct approach as offensive or even rude. So, how can we quickly drill down to the issue while still coming across as “for” our colleague?

Here are a few tips:

  • First, listen well. Regardless of how spot on your feedback may be, if you haven’t taken time to really listen to the other person, that person will probably have a difficult time listening to you.
  • After listening, ask politely for permission to be honest with them. “I’d like to offer some advice. Would you mind hearing my thoughts on that?” or “May I have permission to coach you on a certain topic?”
  • Make sure your intentions and mindset are helpful. You can’t help someone if you aren’t honest, BUT our directness doesn’t have to be harsh or stern. Feedback should always be given with love and care.
  • In return, let your listener know that you give them permission to also give you feedback. Then receive that feedback with a simple thank you.

It’s hard to hear direct feedback on something we’ve done poorly. It’s feels like we’ve failed, and no one likes to fail. However, when we listen well, ask permission to share our honest thoughts, and then share those thoughts with love and care, it allows the listener to be open to hear what we need to say.

Are you a courageous or a cowardly complainer?

Have you ever had someone get upset with you but instead of telling you, they told someone else – or everyone else – except you? We see or experience it all the time. And if we’re honest we’ve probably done it on occasion.

It’s the colleague who tells you they don’t need your help but then grumbles to another coworker that you aren’t pulling your weight. It’s the customer who leaves the restaurant without a peep then complains about his/her experience on Facebook. It’s the people who say “It’s fine!” when it is NOT fine.

Your team needs you to carry your weight. Your customers deserve a great experience. When our reasonable expectations are not met or we feel the other party hasn’t followed through with their end of the bargain, we should speak up. But we should do it in a way that seeks to resolve the issue rather than indulge our frustrations or unhappy feelings.

Courageous complainers:

  • Directly address the issue – with professionalism and class
  • Talk to the person
  • Are solution-focused

Cowardly complainers:

  • Avoid addressing the issue
  • Talk about the person
  • Desire drama/reaction/satisfaction from complaining
  • Are problem-focused

Courageous complainers have the same goal as the person they’re complaining to: they want a reasonable fix. Most cowardly complainers just want to be unhappy, and they want everyone around them to be aware of their unhappiness.

The next time you feel the need to complain, ask yourself, am I complaining courageously or cowardly? Am I focused on a solution or just dwelling on the problem? Your mindset will make all the difference in how you feel and how you impact the problem that’s affecting you.

Are you frustrating your teammates without even realizing it? In our next leadership webinar, we’re going to take a deep dive into how we can be more effective – and less frustrating – leaders in the following three areas: meetings, your availability, and decision-making roulette.

Is it your colleague or leader who’s challenged in one of these areas? Then we’ll give you guidance on how to work better with them. You won’t want to miss this next webinar!

Complimentary Webinar – Quit Frustrating Your Team
Thursday, May 2 at Noon Eastern / 11 a.m. Central / 9 a.m. Pacific
Taught by Linda Sasser, CEO, Impacting Leaders
Click Here to Register Now!

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to teach a webinar for members of the American Staffing Association on creating a culture of accountability. During the Q&A portion of the session, one attendee asked a question that many leaders have wondered about at one time time or another.

Q: Sometimes leaders approach things that need to be fixed by addressing a whole team, rather than the specific individual, so as not to point fingers. Is this a good process?

A: Team meetings to approach individual issues aren’t really the best situation because it can be seen as generic and “not for me” information. Sometimes the person actually doing the issue that the leader is talking about doesn’t think he/she is the one doing it, so he/she deflects the thought that it’s “me” and it must be someone else. Or maybe this is just a “nice to know” speech from the leader. Typically the challenge can be handled with much more effectiveness when directly communicating with the individual. Many times when a leader addresses individual issues with the whole team, they’re hoping to avoid conflict.

For guidance on how to address a performance issue, check out a previous blog post, “7 Tips for Growing Teammates Through Critical Conversations.”

Have a leadership question you’d like answered on the blog? Email us at ILTeam@impactingleaders.com. 

Live with no regrets. So how are you doing with that? If life on earth were over tomorrow, would you feel satisfied? Would you be able to say that you lived life to its fullest? Did you impact those that you were meant to impact? Did you love those that needed your love?

Or did you hold back, play it safe, live comfortably?

Average isn’t bad. But average isn’t what God intends. Satan loves average. He likes for us to play it safe because anything bigger involves faith, and faith comes from our unquestionable confidence in the Lord.

Don’t get me wrong. No Regret living doesn’t mean driving 65 in a 55-mph zone. LOL, you might regret doing that. Living with no regrets means different things to different people. For me, the simplest explanation means not holding back, going for it, stepping forward, movement, risk, and change.

What harms our intentions to living with no regrets?

  1. Worry about not having enough
  2. Focusing on what will others think
  3. Prioritizing self-preservation and safety
  4. Fearing failure or the unknown

When we have a regret that we can’t shake off it’s because we haven’t peeled back the onion on what good may have come from that disappointing decision or action. Think about a regret, then ask yourself:

  1. Were other people positively affected because of it?
  2. Was my mindset altered in any way? Did it change me?
  3. Did this regret reroute my future direction?
  4. What did I learn?

You see, what we think might be a regret could be a life-altering need for another person or a defining season that changes how you think or what direction you’re heading. Life regrets are also learning seasons.

In closing, there is something worse than living safe and avoiding risks and regrets. You may miss your unique calling. Our unique calling in life isn’t just given to us on a silver platter. We work our way through the ups and downs to our unique calling. Our successes and failures are what prepare us for our calling. So, step out! Raise the bar on your faith, your expectations, your sacrifice, and your belief in God’s generosity! Don’t be afraid to take risks and live with no regrets.

The first time I saw this picture, everything stopped and froze in my soul. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it because to me, without any words, it perfectly describes how our life can continue to grow after the loss of a child. In our case, our 24-year-old son, Hank.

Grief. It’s unpredictable. It’s unique to each of us. It’s powerfully strong. It’s always present. It can be covered up but not buried. You want to shed it, but you need to embrace it. Grief isn’t an enemy. It’s a companion.

As this picture represents, we keep on going and we keep on growing with our grief. We don’t leave it behind. For me, I need it with me. Because my grief is attached to something I love so much. It’s attached to his smile. His laugh. His warm hug. His positive outlook on life. His care for others. His desire to please. His love for flight. His love for his sisters.

This week marks four years since our family’s crash. Each day God helps us carry and embrace our grief as we keep it going! We are not strong nor are we special. We cling to God’s promises and continue to build our strength by standing on His solid foundation.

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.”